Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Gigs You Need Your Passport For!

EVERY year Sue’s birthday conveniently falls the day before St. Patrick’s Day. How awesome is that?! It means that we always have an extra day off to celebrate (or recuperate) so we usually head away for a city break. 

One Year, however, Kylie, one of her all time fave artists, was coming to Dublin for the Aphrodite tour. I debated whether to just get her Kylie tickets and an overnight stay in a Dublin hotel for her birthday rather than go away, as the tickets alone were the guts of €100 each. Then it struck me, sure it’s a European tour, we could do both!

First thing I did was check out Ticketmaster for what other cities Kylie was playing in, then checked out Aer Lingus to see where we could go that wouldn't cost the earth. Yep, it was genius, nope, I'm not ashamed of the humblebrag. Wait till you see, you're about to realise it was genius too...

Barcelona looked good & what’s more the Kylie tickets for her gig in Palau Sant Jordi were only €42 each including booking fee. I opted to collect them at the venue on the night, to save on postage & the potential of them going missing. I managed to get us Aer Lingus flights Dublin – Barcelona for €126 each including a checked bag, taxes & charges.

I looked in all the usual places for a central hotel, holidaynights.co.uk, hotelscombined.co.uk & trivago.com then I dipped into Tripadvisor to see if the one I’d chosen wasn’t the pits. I chose Hotel Atlantis for both location & price, it was actually cheaper booking direct with the hotel. It’s a 3* hotel belonging to Gala Hotel Group right in the centre of Barcelona with very few bad reviews. I got a twin room for 4 nights B&B for €120 each.

The hotel was perfect for our needs, lovely staff, spotless rooms & tasty fresh breakfast, right in the heart of Barcelona. The hotel is easily accessed from the Airport by taking the Aerobus for the short 15 minute ride. Tickets are €20pp return. Then it’s a 5 minute walk to the hotel. Plaza de Catalunya & Las Ramblas are a 5 minute walk from the hotel with the pier a further 10 minute walk down Las Ramblas. We whiled away a few hours sitting outside Cafe Zurich at Plaza de Catalunya sipping wine, people watching and soaking up the sunshine.

We bought tickets for the hop on hop off tour bus before we went from viator.com costing €27 each for 48 hours. This enabled us to soak up the culture & the wonderful architecture of Barcelona in a short time. We also went on the Montjuïc cable car to take in some of the stunning panoramic views of Barcelona along the 2,467ft to the top station. There are three stops on the cable car with lots to see & do including old military fortress, the National Art Museum & the Architectural Museum among others. Return tickets cost €11.50 per adult.

The evening of the concert we took a stroll down Las Ramblas heading toward the port where Maremagnum shopping centre is located. We sat in the al fresco seating of restaurant Tapa Tapa overlooking the busy Barcelona port full of yachts on one side & cruise ships on the other. It was a fab evening of tapas, good wine & great laughs before we caught a cab to the stadium for the gig. It was honestly one of the best gigs I’ve been to, the atmosphere was electric. 

I received some complimentary tickets for the Kylie concert in Dublin so we went along to that one too, it’d be rude not to. Having never had the opportunity to compare European gigs before, truth be told, it wasn’t a patch on the Barcelona show.

Seeing as we had 5 days in Barcelona we decided to take a trip to Montserrat to see the famous Benedictine Monastery dating back to 1239 & to take in the breathtaking views from the mountaintop. Some believe that this is the location of the Holy Grail. Montserrat is just an hour outside Barcelona. (Sue here - Apart from that rocky cable car into the clouds being the most terrified I've ever been - IT WAS LEGIT AMAZE!)

We were literally IN the clouds! 
Take the train to Manresa from track R5 in Espanya Station for €19pp return. We were amazed by the views from the train station, they really are something quite special. From here we got a cable car (Aeri de Montserrat) directly up the mountain to the monastery. Tickets are €10pp return. 

The world famous oldest boy’s choir in Europe perform Gregorgian chants & religious choral music in the Basilica every day at 1pm, there is no admission fee. I swear something got in my eye while we were listening to them, well it is an ancient Basilica, it might have been dust!

While we were there it was overcast & quite cold at night as it was March. We plan on going back to soak up some sun on a short hop city break that won’t break the bank!

In a time of rip off ticket prices in Ireland and ever cheaper airfares,  would you consider a city break to see a favourite star? 

Have you been to Barcelona? What did we miss out this time around?

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